Official Publication of the North Dakota Association of the Blind
Available in four formats: large print, e-mail, braille and cassette tape
Editor: Kathy Larson firstname.lastname@example.org
“Not he who lacks sight, but he who lacks vision is blind.”
“We strive to enhance the way of life for people who are blind or visually impaired,
To encourage employment opportunities, and to educate the public about sight loss.”
Table of Contents
|Greetings from the President||2|
|Note from the Editor||3|
|Welcome New NDAB Members||4|
|Celebrating 70 Years of Membership||4|
|NDAB Family Adjustment Seminar||6|
|About Standing Up and Walking for NDAB||6|
|A Reminder about the NDAB Member PIP||6|
|Pleasant Thoughts for Winter||7|
|Members of Our NDAB Family||7|
|Signing Up for Listserve||10|
|GW Micro and Microsoft||11|
|New App to Identify U.S. Currency||12|
|Member News From Around the State||13|
|Donations and Memorials||17|
|The Smart Contact Lens||18|
|The Getting Started Kit
|Visually Impaired Make Visit to Outlook Nebraska Inspiring||20|
|Legislative Report Winter 2014||22|
|2013 ACB Convention Delegate Report||24|
|NDAB 10-2013 Board Meeting Minutes||28|
|All Used Up||31|
|NDAB Leadership Roster||32|
Greetings from the President
Today is a cold, bitter day, with me wishing for sunshine, warmth, wide open country, and nothing around me but prairie grass, a few cottonwood trees, and long rolling hills. As I sit in my chair gazing out the window at the cold streets that seem to be frozen in time, I think of summer camp and my NDAB family, remembering a few cool mornings at camp, the warmth of a hot cup of coffee in my hand and talking with many of you. Right then I missed all of you very much and decided to have a hot cup of tea with you and some good conversation. After pouring us a hot cup of tea and placing a few ginger snaps on a plate, we settle in on some good conversation.
“So, what have you been up too, Mark?” With a grin I say, “Busy as always, family, work, NDAB, and just trying to put 32 hours of work in a 24 hour day.” Smiling you say, “Yes, me too, crazy how busy life is these days.” We both take a sip of tea and you ask, “You mentioned NDAB, what’s been happening?” “Well,” I say, “we’ve been working on the Strategic Plan.” With a frown you ask, “What is a Strategic Plan?” And I reply, “I am glad you asked. A strategic plan is a type of road map to the future, maybe roads that lead into the future 3-5 years or longer, building in a general direction or purpose at first. Then as time passes, you build other roads that merge together with the first road, all leading to the same destination. Then during this same time, you are adding improvements to the road such as gutters, bridges, and speed limit signs, or a change of direction slightly to better merge with others.” You say, “Mmm, sounds complicated.” I take a sip, smile and remark, “Well, yes it can be, but the idea is to take small steps or to work on small sections of the road at a time, sometimes simultaneously with other roads being built, but again at a slow or manageable pace as not to slip off course.” Looking thoughtful you say, “Sounds doable, but what about problems or road blocks that come along?” As I take another sip of tea I say, “Guaranteed, there is always going to be road blocks and pot holes we run into, but with the talent NDAB has in its membership, these obstacles can be rebuilt, filled in, or removed, and if necessary we build a slight curve in the road to avoid what is blocking our path.” Sipping your tea you add, “Sounds like it will take some time?” Replying I say, “Yes it could, and we may need to build a few rest stops along the way to look back and make sure we haven’t veered off the main road.”
“A second cup and a ginger snap”
I ask, “How about a second cup and a ginger snap?” Smiling you say, “Yes please, this tea taste good and it’s been a long time since I enjoyed ginger snaps.” After a bit of the cookie you state, “So, who is helping you with the strategic plan?” Grinning I say, “Primarily the board, but with several other NDAB members also involved. They are all doing a great job and are excited about the process and potential. The hard part I say is keeping my foot on the brakes. I may have to install a couple of extra hand brakes. People are so excited and want it all too happen today.” Smiling you say, “Yes, that is the sign of the times we live in; everyone wants instant gratification.” I say, “Yes, this is true, but it’s wonderful to see how excited people are getting and how well they are working together towards a common goal.”
Hesitating you ask, “So what are some of the goals you are working on?” I reply, “Before telling you the goals, I also want you to understand these are in no particular order of importance.” With a sip of tea you say, “Ok, I understand.” Continuing I state, “We have four main goals: Generally speaking, we have Capacity Building which deals with membership, working to maintain and recruit more members. Next is Governance and Communication, dealing with NDAB’s laws, policies, procedures, and developing a more open communication between board members and NDAB membership. Also included is Legislative and Public Policy Advocacy for the promotion and advocacy of programs and policies that support NDAB’s mission. Finally, we have Education and Technology, basically, focused on education of the public and membership on issues that are important to individuals with sight loss and utilizing familiar and new technology to improve communication and awareness across the state.”
Your reply, “Sounds like a lot of generalities?” I say, “Yes, it is designed that way as to not be overwhelming. Our next step is to develop more specific tasks and we will soon be looking for volunteers to help with each separate goal.” “Well Mark,” you say smiling, “this sounds very interesting. I think I may be interested in helping with one of these goals, but only on one condition.” “What’s that?” I say. Laughing out loud you say, “Stop talking, we are out of ginger snaps, and pour me another cup of tea.”
Well, the sun is almost setting upon my keyboard, and I am out of tea, and I am getting ready to pull the curtains for the evening. I would like to remind all of you that this is a big election year for NDAB, and there are plenty of positions available for those of you who want to participate in this exciting time for NDAB. Please talk to Paula Anundson if you are interested. I say the more the merrier. Also, please don’t forget to make your plans for attending the 2014 NDAB Convention in Fargo. The Fargo team has a lot of exciting plans and I am confident you will enjoy your time with us.
On another note, many wiser and more knowledgeable people than I have given their thoughts as to life’s many truths or teachings over the centuries. These are some I have learned and strive for each day, and I wish them for you in this new year: Live in each moment of every day, love everyone and every living thing every day, learn something new each day, and trust in the Lord every moment of every day and “he will make straight your paths.”
Let’s create our future today, together! Participate! Get involved & have fun!
Mark Kueffler, President
Note from the Editor
And so… we begin a new year. What happened to 2013? They say that time flies when one is having fun, so that must be the answer.
Watch for changes and a new look on our NDAB website. Matthew Engbrecht is going to be our new web administrator. NDAB.org was created in 1999 with the help of our youngest son Greg, and I have administrated the site for 15 years, enjoying the work. Many new things have come into play such as blogs and Facebook, so look for new things on our site.
Thanks to those who sent in favorite quotes.
The following are from Denise Kirsch:
“Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.” –Booker T. Washington
Reality is having something tangible to center our fantasies around.
“Talent is produced in solitude… character in the stream of life.” –Goethe
Judge people, not by what they say or do, but by what they want.
Helen Baumgartner sent these:
“You can’t reach for anything new if your hands are still full of yesterday’s junk.” –Louise Smith
“If you want the best the world has to offer, offer the world your best.” –Neale Donald Walsch
“I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.” –Stephen Covey
Here are a couple more favorites of mine:
“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson
“You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother.” –Albert Einstein
If you have a favorite quote you’d like to share, send it to me at email@example.com or mail it to: 15225 59th St NW, Williston ND 58801-9560.
Kathy Larson, Promoter Editor
Welcome New NDAB Members
NDAB welcomes Paul Griffin and Rose Stoller of Bismarck and Steve Skjei of Williston to our membership.
Celebrating 70 Years of Membership
By Kathy Larson
How many of us can claim the date of 1/1/1944 for the date when we joined NDAB on the current membership list? There are only two such members. They are Olga Neal and Dorranna Robertson.
Remembrances of Olga and Dorranna take me back to my first year at NDAB Summer Camp, 1985. They were both in the cabin that Loris and I were assigned to. I remember sitting in the wooden lawn chairs with Olga out in front of our cabin every morning, having daily devotions together… a wonderful way to start the day. I think Dorranna was in charge of the Friday night banquet with a Christmas theme. Loris and I were practicing our song for the talent show in our cabin, and after hearing us, Dorranna asked if we would sing the Norwegian Christmas song “Jeg Er Så Glad” for the banquet. That was almost 30 years ago!
Olga and Dorranna joined NDAB at the age of 18, the eligibility age for joining the organization. Their first contact with NDAB was at the state convention in Fargo along with Lloyd Robertson and Dutch Kline who took them there. Miss Mark, The braille teacher at the School for the Blind in Bathgate (where they both attended) encouraged them to join. Miss Mark was & advocate for persons with sight loss and saw that growth in NDAB membership would help to get it up and running.
Olga signed a contract for her first year of teaching at the School for the Blind in 1952 and contracted polio before school had even begun. She married Don Neal in 1953 after teaching for a short time. They moved to Wyoming where they lived for 12 years where Don took a teaching position. In the summer of 1965 they moved back to North Dakota where Olga began teaching at the School for the Blind in Grand Forks until her retirement in about 1990.
Along with raising two daughters, Olga and Don were very much involved in NDAB through the years, working for benefits for persons with sight loss. There had been a camp for the blind in Wyoming, so Olga got the idea to have such a camp in North Dakota! Don drove a couple of NDAB members around the state, looking for a suitable site for such a camp. A camp at Ashtabula was used for two years, and in 1971 the Elks Camp Grassick was chosen & has been used ever since. Olga was instrumental in getting the camp started, and we say “Thank you, Olga!” She was the first camp director, and has been secretary, president, and editor of the Promoter. Olga said, “NDAB is the most wonderful thing that could ever happen for persons with sight loss in North Dakota.” Olga and her daughter Donna Lee live in Grand Forks. Don passed away in 2009.
NDAB was very dear to Dorranna and Lloyd Robertson. They did a lot of work for the organization through the years and gave many donations. Dorranna said that Lloyd’s whole life was NDAB, passing away in 1991. Lloyd had served as president and Dorranna as secretary. “Conventions were all we had for getting together,” said Dorranna, “and we met friends in Fargo on weekends to get together and play cards and exchange recipes.”
Following high school graduation Dorranna had a job at the Capitol as typist in the Welfare Division – Adoptions & Crippled Children’s Services. She worked there for over four years until their first of four children was born. She recalls the doctor asking her who was going to take care of this baby. Surprised to hear his question she replied, “Well I am!” That doctor was truly ignorant as to what a person with sight loss could do.
The Randolph-Sheppard Act authorized the Vending Facility program that provided Dorranna with employment and self-support through the operation of a vending facility on federal property. She had a coffee/snack bar, first in Bismarck and then in Fargo. She retired after sixteen years at age 68.
When I asked Dorranna why someone should join NDAB, she said, “It is a Good connection with other people who are visually impaired.” She added, “You don’t know how to cope sometimes.” “Camp is a good thing,” she said. Dorranna resides at Villa Maria in Fargo.
We say many thanks to you, Olga and Dorranna, for the work you have done for NDAB, helping to make the organization what it is today!
Family Adjustment Seminar Spring 2014
Submitted by Janelle Olson
If you recall, the Family Adjustment Seminar that was scheduled to be held last October in Bismarck was canceled due to lack of interest. It has been rescheduled this spring in Minot on April 12th. We need your help to provide us names of possible participants. You as an NDAB member are the best advertisement for getting out the word about this project. Share your story with someone who is struggling with sight loss. Tell people about NDAB and the Seminar. If you think they may be interested, call me at (701) 570-0801 with their contact information.
About Standing Up and Walking for NDAB!
By Allan Peterson
Although it’s cold outside, it’s a good time to begin to think and make plans for this year’s Walk for NDAB!! Holding true to tradition, the suggested date for our NDAB Walk would be Saturday, April 26th. This year, this is the Saturday which follows Easter Sunday, April 20. Our Walk could be thought of as a time to celebrate spring and a time for renewal after hibernating during our North Dakota winter!
Plans are presently underway to hold our NDAB Fargo Walk on that Saturday of April 26. Of significance, members of the NDSU Campus Lions Club have agreed to help with our Fargo Walk and members of this club are all NDSU students.
We would again like to hold a Walk in as many communities as is possible. Last year Walks were held in 6 different cities, Bismarck, Fargo, Grand Forks, Minot, Valley City, and Williston. Hopefully we will soon be able to organize walks in each of these communities again this year. If you don’t happen to live in one or near one of those cities, you could help organize a Walk in your area or do your own Walk and join us as a virtual walker. Of note in this regard, Paula did her NDAB Walk in Valley City on her own last year. Way to go Paula!
If you have an interest and want to participate, I urge you to call or Email me. My phone numbers are (701) 282-4644 at home and my cell number is (701) 429-7209. Or send me a message via Email – my address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our annual Walk for NDAB is our major fund raiser for the year so, I hope to recruit as many of you to help and participate as is possible. We want to make this year’s walk our best ever! Bo Team NDAB!
A Reminder about the NDAB Member Participation Incentive Program
What are you as members of NDAB doing to make our great organization even better? Remember that you can earn points, focusing on three of NDAB’s priority areas:
1) Increase Participation at NDAB events, 2) Membership Growth and 3) Increased Fundraising. Last year was the first year for this program with nine members participating. Everyone received certificates and the top three with the most points received checks. Together these nine members raised $6110.00 and added six new members. Participation in this program is a way to help NDAB continue to positively change the lives of people who are blind or visually impaired. You can make a difference!
Membership Chair, Zelda Gebhard
Pleasant Thoughts for Winter
Summer sun, gentle lake breezes, great food, old and new friends… Are you thinking about our NDAB Summer Camp held at the Elks Camp Grassick? The 44th annual camp session will be held August 10-17 so reserve those dates on your calendar and plan to attend. Kathy Larson and her daughter are planning the banquet with the theme “Gone Fishin’.”
If you have any suggestions for new classes, please contact Rick at (701) 235-3293 or Loris at (701) 774-3399. Watch the next Promoter for more camp details.
Submitted by Rick Feldman and Loris Van Berkom, Co-Camp Directors
Members of our NDAB Family
We remember NDAB member Sandy Nelson who was always so great about helping longtime NDAB members Dutch and Millie Kline get to wherever they needed to go. She remained a faithful member of NDAB even after they were gone.
Sandra L. “Sandy” Nelson, 71, Bismarck, died August 31, 2013 at Sanford Health, Bismarck with her loving family by her side.
Sandy was born November 9, 1941 in Temvik, ND, to Ludwig and Elizabeth (Weber) Zoller. Raised and educated near Linton, she graduated from Linton High School. In 1959 she began working for Morton County Social Services where she held numerous positions. On June 9, 1967 she married Murel E. Nelson in Mandan and they always loved camping and fishing with family. Following Murel’s death in 1986 Sandy remained in their home and continued to travel and spent more time with her family. A great love for children of all ages and those less fortunate, Sandy had a heart filled with kindness and compassion which made her a natural at her job with the Cripple Children Services where she made many lifelong friends, retiring in 2001. Sandy always had a good attitude in life, even when faced with cancer and other health problems. When Sandy entered the nursing home she said it’s hard on me, but harder on my family, so I’ll make the best of it. A highlight of one of her hospital stays was a fancy lobster dinner served by her beloved great great nephew and niece, Dylan and Haley. Family was especially important to Sandy and she loved hosting holiday get togethers and birthday parties. Saturday shopping trips with her sister, Bernice, were always a good time. She also loved to travel. Some of her favorite trips were to see her niece, Kayleene in various states, her sister, Norma in Chicago, and her great niece, Amy in Hawaii.
* * * * *
We extend sincere sympathy to Mike Hoeppner on the death of his father. Jerome “Jerry” Hoeppner II, 91, of Grand Forks, ND, who passed away peacefully October 24, 2013 in Valley Eldercare Center in Grand Forks. During his working years he was employed as a Chemist in a supervisory position with the Energy Department of the United States Bureau of Mines, and also owned and operated a home business, repairing televisions in the Grand Forks area.
* * * * *
It is with much sadness that I include the following obituary. Linda was one of my dearest friends, and is so very much missed. She will be truly missed by many at our NDAB Summer Camp.
Linda Oyloe, 66, of rural Williston, passed away at her home on Saturday, November 23, 2013.
Linda Ann Baustad was born April 11, 1947 in Rugby, ND, to Lynn and Agnes (Hanson) Baustad. She was raised in Fillmore, ND, and graduated from Rugby High School. After high school she attended a business college in Fargo. She started work on her elementary education degree at UND-Williston and graduated from UND in Grand Forks with her bachelor’s degree. She later entered the Master’s program at Minot State College. Linda was united in marriage to Roger Martin Oyloe at West Prairie Lutheran Church. Roger passed away on March 25, 1991. For many years, Linda was the learning disabilities’ teacher for WilMac at the Grenora School. She recently retired from teaching; retirement was great, but she missed the kids. She was a member of Women of the Moose, Relay for Life, Alaethia Singers, and the North Dakota Association of the Blind. Among Linda’s many enjoyments in life were reading, planting and growing flowers, yard work, and sewing. Her greatest joy was simply spending time with her beloved family and friends. Surviving Linda are her children, Rick (Susie) Hanson and their children, Brandon and Shelby, Larry (Andrea) Hanson and daughter, Josie, Ryan (Stephanie) Oyloe, Brian (Ken) Hanson-Kooyer, Tammy Wright and her daughter, Kealy, and Steve (Leslie) Hanson and their daughters, Ashley and Nicole; two brothers, Aaron Baustad (Nathan and Jenny) and Terry Baustad (Laurie and Daryn); her two sisters, Diane (Kevin) Satermo (Jessica and Nick) and Jo (Dave) Ferrell (Carrissa and Nels); her in-laws, Buddy and Marie Anderson, and Ronnie Oyloe (Preston and Kristy); and Ron Atanasu. She was preceded in death by her husband, Roger, her first husband, Arvid Hanson, and her parents.
* * * * *
Dick Veal had a “life-changing event” on the evening of December 11th, 2013. He had been out for dinner with a friend, and when dropped off at his home was heading into his house through the garage. The bone just below his right hip broke as he was going up steps from his garage into the house, landing on the floor. The pain was excruciating; it took him over an hour to get to the nearest phone in his house. He says he was put back together with a Titanium Rod and screws. He is doing rehab at Sanford Health Continuing Care off Collins and is Progressing each day. At the time of our phone conversation and this writing (the beginning of January) He didn’t know how much longer he would be there. Dick said he is getting great care and some hard workouts, and he sounded great! His long-term goal is to walk into the Hamfest in Bismarck on February 22nd. For those of you who may not know Dick, he is a ham radio operator. In case he is still at Sanford at the time of this newsletter, you could send him a card to room #508: Sanford Health Continuing Care Center off Collins, 201 14 St NW, Mandan ND 58554. He does not have a phone in his room, but you could call (701) 663-4274 and a phone will be taken to him. His home address is: 1829 N 8th St, Bismarck ND 58501. We wish full recovery for you, Dick, and to walk into that Hamfest in February!
* * * * *
We extend sincere sympathy to Duane and Donna Iszler Preabt of Grand Forks on the death of Duane’s mother Garnet Preabt of Minot. She passed away on December 20, 2013 in a Minot hospital. Garnet and her husband Ernest were former NDAB members. Ernest died in 2002. Garnet was the longtime secretary of the North Dakota Association for the Blind-Minot Chapter. Her special interests included crafts, gardening, puzzles, reading, cooking and baking (especially bread), playing solitaire, watching the wild turkeys and deer outside her window, and taking walks with Ernest. Memorials are preferred to Zion Lutheran Church, the North Dakota Association for the Blind-Minot Chapter or the USS North Dakota Navy Submarine Fund.
* * * * *
Please keep Krista Doubek of Grand Forks in thought and prayer as the condition of her health is constantly changing. She has been out of the hospital for about a month and is planning to go to Ski for Light. She is looking forward to getting a guide dog this spring from Guiding Eyes – New York. If you care to send her a greeting, mail to: 1718 24th Ave S, #7, Grand Forks ND 58201.
* * * * *
Becky Monroe is recovering well from her surgery last fall. Her plans for summer include NDAB Summer Camp. Welcome back, Becky!
* * * * *
We have lost still another longtime NDAB member whose birthday we always celebrated at Summer Camp. Connie Springsted, 72, Minot, died on Friday, January 10, 2014, in a Minot hospital.
Connie Yvette Provolt was born on August 14, 1941, in New Leipzig, to Victor and Carrie (Brekke) Provolt. She was reared and educated in New Leipzig, graduated from New Leipzig High School in 1959 and from North Dakota State University in Fargo in 1963 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Home Economics. As a young adult she was employed at the NDSU Extension Center in Richland County for two years.
Connie married Jay Springsted on June 23, 1964. To this union a daughter, Vanessa, was born. They lived in Europe, Kansas and North Dakota prior to moving to Minot in 1973. While residing in Minot she was employed at the YWCA, teaching adult classes in food and nutrition. More recently, she was employed part time for 22 years at the First District Health Unit as a nutritionist for the nutrition program for Women, Infants and Children (W.I.C.) and from 1982 until her retirement as a nutritionist for the Minot Commission on Aging.
Connie was a member of the Trinity Evangelical Free Church, North Dakota Association for the Blind, Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary, Plum Valley Lions, Northwest Home Economics Association, Minot Christians Women’s Club and North Dakota Nutrition Council. She especially enjoyed enthusiastically supporting her granddaughters in their activities, crocheting, and a good cup of tea. Her woo-hoos and half-hummed hymns will forever keep her with us.
Connie’s loving family includes: her husband, Jay; daughter, Vanessa (Gaylyn) Dahl, of Sawyer; grandchildren, Brooke and Jordan Dahl; sisters, Vicki Siewert of Rice, Minn., and Kay Provolt of Elgin; and several nieces, nephews and cousins.
Connie was preceded in death by her parents and grandparents.
Memorials are preferred to the Trinity Church, N.D. Association for the Blind – Minot Chapter or New Leipzig Ambulance Service.
* * * * *
We extend our deepest sympathy to Zelda and Steven Gebhard on the death of Zelda’s mother, Barbara Payne, who passed away on January 15, 2014 at Jacobson Memorial Hospital in Elgin at the age of 84. Until the last few months Barbara lived on the ranch /farm south of Elgin, ND, where the motto was always “children are our most important crop.” She was a gardener, quilter, friend and neighbor who enjoyed her 12 grandchildren and 25 great grandchildren.
* * * * *
I bring you greetings from our oldest member of NDAB, Viola Lillehaugen. She just turned 103 on January 17, celebrating with many people at her big birthday party! She has fond memories of NDAB Summer Camp and regrets that she is no longer able to attend. She is in a home in Rochester and doing well. She wonders why she is still on this earth, but I told her that she is a joy to all around her, with her smile and positive attitude. She has been, and continues to be, a blessing to many.
Signing up for listserve
Many of us are on an email listserve through the School for the Blind. If you are interested in joining, this is how a new subscriber gets on the list.
Start an email message; in the To: line, put this: email@example.com
Leave the subject line blank. In the body of the message, put this:
Send the message. You will receive a subscription confirmation.
GW Micro and Microsoft
Fort Wayne, Indiana (January 14, 2014) – GW Micro, Inc.
(www.gwmicro.com) is proud to make a revolutionary announcement. GW Micro and Microsoft Corp. have partnered to make Window-Eyes available to users of Microsoft Office at no cost. Window-Eyes is a screen reader that enables people who are blind, visually impaired, or print disabled to have full access to Windows PCs and makes the computer accessible via speech and/or braille.
To better deliver Window-Eyes to the people who need it most, GW Micro and Microsoft have collaborated on this global initiative, available in over 15 languages, to enable anyone using Microsoft Office 2010 or later to also use Window-Eyes for free. Access to technology is critical to people who are blind or visually impaired in order to have the same opportunity to compete in the workplace. As such, this initiative between GW Micro and Microsoft has the potential to reduce barriers for millions of people who are blind or visually impaired around the world.
As the population ages, technologies like Window-Eyes will become more and more important as the number of people with age-related macular degeneration and other retinal degenerative diseases increases. “This significant change in the way we are doing business reflects the changing perception of accessibility and also technology in general.
“Rather than wait for the world to change, Microsoft and GW Micro are leading the way,” said Dan Weirich, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for GW Micro. Weirich believes this technology can help millions of people gain access to their PC, and that providing it free of charge will open a whole new world of assistive technology to many people.
In light of the rapidly changing face of technology and specifically, the changing face of assistive technology, the combined efforts of GW Micro and Microsoft have the goal of providing accessibility to people who are blind and visually impaired for the long term.
Microsoft continues to take accessibility seriously. “By partnering with GW Micro in this endeavor we are demonstrating Microsoft’s ongoing commitment to provide all of our customers with the technology and tools to help each person be productive in both their work and personal lives,” said Rob Sinclair, Chief Accessibility Officer for Microsoft.
Eligible customers, using Microsoft Office 2010 or higher, will be able to download a full version of Window-Eyes starting today at www.WindowEyesForOffice.com. The website provides download instructions as well as additional details about this offer.
GW Micro, Inc. (www.gwmicro.com)
has been a trusted pioneer in the adaptive technology industry since 1990, and continues to lead with innovative, customer driven solutions.
Dan Weirich, VP of Sales and Marketing
U.S. Department of Education Announces New App to Identify U.S. Currency
U.S. Treasurer Applauds Department of Education’s Accessibility Effort
(Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Education announced the launch of the “IDEAL Currency Identifier,” a free downloadable application (app) to assist individuals who are blind or visually impaired to denominate U.S. currency on some mobile devices.
The IDEAL Currency Identifier was developed by IDEAL Group, IQ Engines, and the Wireless Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (RERC) at the Georgia Institute of Technology through a grant from the Department of Education’s National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), a component of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.
NIDRR is the primary U.S. government agency focused on disability and rehabilitation research. Its mission is to generate research knowledge and assistive technologies while promoting their effective use in improving the abilities and opportunities of individuals with disabilities in performing activities of their choice in the community. The initiative supports the Department of Treasury’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) in its mandate to provide increased access to U.S. currency for persons who are blind and visually impaired.
Dr. Charlie Lakin, the Director of NIDRR, issued the following statement: “Through our dialogue with the BEP, a special opportunity emerged to fulfill our mission in support of persons who are blind and visually impaired. The IDEAL Currency Identifier uses advanced image recognition technology to read a note and, in a matter of seconds, provides users with an audible response indicating the note’s denomination.”
Treasurer of the United States Rosie Rios applauded the Department of Education’s role in the app’s development. “Treasury is committed to providing meaningful access to U.S. currency and, by using technology, we can help hundreds of thousands of individuals who are blind or visually impaired. Our collaboration with the Department of Education allowed us to be resourceful and, in turn, more individuals will have the means to independently denominate the U.S. currency they use in daily commerce.”
The app, which interacts with Google’s “Eyes-Free” applications, can be downloaded for free on more than 1,250 different wireless devices. The IDEAL Currency Identifier was developed by Apps4Android, Inc., a subsidiary of IDEAL Group that develops mobile applications. Android-based devices are produced by 48 manufacturers and distributed by 60 wireless service providers in 136 countries.
This new app is one of several measures the government is developing to assist people with vision impairments to denominate currency. The BEP has introduced EyeNote®, a similar currency reading mobile app. There have been more than 8,000 free downloads of the EyeNote® app since its introduction.
In May 2011, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner approved three measures to provide accessibility to U.S. currency for those who are blind or visually impaired. These measures include
implementing a Currency Reader Program to distribute a currency reader device to blind and visually impaired U.S. citizens; continuing to add large high-contrast numerals and different background colors to redesigned currency the BEP may lawfully change; and adding a raised tactile feature to U.S. currency unique to each U.S. Federal Reserve note that BEP may lawfully change, which would provide users with a means of identifying each denomination via touch.
For more information about the IDEAL Currency Identifier and other accessibility apps, please visit
Member News from Around the State
Bismarck/Mandan News from Bob Vandal
Happy New Year everyone. Greetings from Bismarck, Mandan and the surrounding area. It has been a cold one, but by the time we get this, we will be in February. We can all survive till then. Right?
My daughter and her boyfriend came home for Christmas. It was really nice to see them again. She may be done this spring. I hope I can get out there for graduation.
Well there is no moss under Donna Hepper’s feet. She is as busy as ever. I reported at one time that she and her husband were going to retire. I think I should have confirmed that with Rudy. They may be putting another 500 head of cattle on the ranch. She plans on going to Washington DC for the Annual Legislative Seminar.
I don’t know if you know this, but I have an inside informant in the Heritage Center. She (oops) tells me that it must be ready prior to November of 2014 because that is our 125th birthday, and she also informed me that, as a volunteer, she got to go on a tour of the facility. There are a number of galleries each with their own themes. The first one gives you the feeling that you are under water. One has a Native American theme with moccasin shapes in the floor. I can’t wait to go through it. I wish I could tell you who my informant is but you know that professional journalist must protect their sources. OK OK… I can tell you this; her initials are M.A. Now don’t ask anything else.
Someone who always has news for me is Bobby Westermeyer. He tells me that Escape to the Lake will be held On June 14th at Nelson Lake. This event features skiing and other water activities along with lunch. This is sponsored by NDAD. For more information call Geri at 701-795-6603.
The American Cancer Society of the Bismarck chapter is sponsoring a fund raiser called St. Patty’s Crawl. This will be held mid-March. I do not have an exact date but I do have a number for more information; 224-9954.
The VIP support group met at the Hong Kong in January.
Thanks everyone. See you in May.
Fargo News from Shereen Faber
Greetings to all in 2014! I think our planet has shifted and we are now considered Siberia. By the time we get this issue hopefully things will have warmed up and the groundhog will be nice to us, but regardless, we all know we will still have six more weeks of winter.
We had our Christmas potluck December 14th. There were about sixteen of us that shared our food and boy did we have a lot of wonderful varieties. We also exchanged gifts and conversation. It was a lot of fun!
November 2nd we went to the performance of “Young Frankenstein,” the musical, which was hilarious. The actors and actresses did a fabulous job, but Sherry DeFrancesco’s dog guide “Milly” was the funniest of all when she started moaning along with Young Frankenstein. The whole theatre did not hear Milly but those of us who were sitting close to them absolutely did, and it was quite funny! December 14th we saw the performance of “The Wizard of Oz” and once again they did a fabulous job and once again Milly was noticed. This time the whole theatre caught on and got the giggles. They had a real dog playing Toto. After Dorothy met up with the Scarecrow, Tinman, and Lion and they were about to continue down the Yellow Brick Road, Toto spotted Milly and came to a complete stop and just stared, and Dorothy had to pull on the leash to get Toto to follow along. Milly and Toto actually met after the play was done and seemed to get along just fine.
Fargo is hosting the NDAB Convention this year; it will be held at the Country Inn & Suites on June 13th, 14th and 15th. Room rates will be $89 plus tax per night. They have a continental breakfast, lounge and swimming pool available. The convention committee has been meeting and working hard to put things together with Missy Miller as our chair person. More details to come in the call to convention letter.
Candy and Terry Lien traveled for the holidays again, stopping in Sioux Falls to see their daughter Becky, on to Kansas to visit their son Andy, and finally to Corpus Christi, Texas, to spend the holidays with Candy’s mother and brothers.
Kathryn Loe had a fall December 2nd and broke a bone in her ankle and has really been laid up and is still on the mend. Things are better; the swelling has gone down some and she’s is wearing a walking boot.
Elton and I stayed in Fargo over the holidays; we had Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at my mom and dad’s with lots of family. My two nieces Gabrielle and Acacia will be leaving to go back to Thailand February 25th. We will really miss them. Acacia will be back though in June because she will be attending UND, so we will hopefully have her around for four more years.
By the time you get this Promoter Sherry DeFrancesco will be Mrs. Shirek.
As many know, Jesse and Sherry were married at the 2014 Regional Ski for Light in South Dakota in front of the bonfire at the cross-country area. Congratulations and best wishes to the two of you!
Hope everybody is thawed out by the next issue and is enjoying a beautiful spring.
Grand Forks News from Olga Neal
Renae and Gary Huseby left for Texas shortly after Christmas where they visited Renae’s sister. From there they went to the Islands; they always enjoy that part of their trip. They will probably be gone another two months—maybe more. They felt sorry for us after hearing about our terribly cold weather! They hope we all had a wonderful Christmas and a happy New Year.
Donna Iszler has been under the weather, and is hoping the doctors will be able to figure out what the problem is. She enjoys accompanying the singers of two Lions clubs for their opening exercises, and also plays for the Senior Citizens for their melodious singing. She really, really enjoys playing the piano. She and Duane lost his mother Garnet Preabt in December; she was up in years.
David McCloud really enjoys his work at a facility that deals with handicapped individuals. After his regular job, he does volunteer work; he likes being busy!
David Sundeen has had many health issues, but at present, everything seems to be under control. He will be going to Ski for Light and looks forward to seeing everybody!
Donna Lee and I had a quiet Christmas & New Year. Daughter Sherry from Rochester was unable to come home then because of her job. I am doing very well, but have some dizzy days now and again, and am so thankful that Donna Lee lives with me. I wish you all a very Happy New Year!
Minot News from Doug and Mary Stip
Wanda Wigness, Lenny Haabak, and Dianne Giessinger all had a very nice quiet Christmas.
Carol Schmitt spent Christmas with family in Devils Lake.
Connie Springsted had family at her house for Christmas.
Garnet Preabt, a former member of NDAB, died in December at age 96.
Deloris Stenvold was in the hospital for a week. She was in rehab and was scheduled to go home January 8th. She says hello and Happy New Year.
We also had a quiet Christmas. We went out to my brother John’s farm south of town for a steak and shrimp dinner, yum!
We sure get the variety of weather in this part of the world, don’t we? One week it’s twenties and thirties, the next week it’s the icebox. Just two winters ago was the mild winter I wish were more the norm for this region. Stay warm, everybody!
Williston Wanderings Winter 2014 from Loris Van Berkom
Winter certainly has made its presence known out here in the west and across the state. As the days get a little longer a minute or two at a time and when we get a break from the snow and cold, we are reminded that spring will eventually come.
Luella Asleson is back in her apartment after a brief hospital stay. She returned home with oxygen but is doing better every day.
Brenda Bruins had a great time with her family when they traveled to Arizona for a week of fun and sun. They stayed with her brother Alan and wife Sheri in their winter home. They did some sightseeing and relaxed by the pool.
Carol Scallon and her family spent Thanksgiving vacation in Edgeley where her mother-in-law lives. Her husband’s family had a big reunion with lots of activities for everyone. They spent Christmas here in Williston with her side of the family. Her Christmas vacation was extended by one day when school was canceled due to the extreme cold weather.
Janelle Olson survived her surprise 60th birthday party November 17th which was followed by a twelve day family vacation to Florida. She walked many miles in her ankle brace at Disney World but took it off to enjoy the Florida beaches. It was very difficult for her to leave the 80’s plus temps to return to our frigid weather. Her ankle healed well so she was glad to get rid of the brace. Their son Matt was home for a week at Christmas. She hosted our annual Christmas Day family gathering.
Jean Cote spent Christmas Eve with her son and Christmas Day with her youngest daughter. Another daughter from Devils Lake visited her in November. She is very happy to be able to stay inside on these cold days.
Sheryl and Dan Gerhardt are getting blamed for bringing North Dakota’s cold weather to Kentucky. Plans for building an apartment onto their son’s house are progressing. Sheryl sends greetings to all of her NDAB friends.
Susan Jorgenson and her husband will be making their annual RV trip to the Oregon coast the middle of January, returning the end of February. Her thoughts went back to the camp auction one cold day this winter when she made delicious chili with a jar of Whitney’s home canned tomatoes.
We were very glad to welcome Steve Skjei to our NDAB family. Steve was one of our instructors at camp last summer. He was born and raised in Williston and moved back here from Iowa. He and his dad are very faithful at attending our monthly vision support group luncheons.
Kathy and Stan celebrated Halloween on Amtrak, heading for Washington to visit son Darrel and family. Surprisingly there were no “trick-or-treaters” on the train! In December they joined 50+ others on a bus trip to Branson for a Branson Christmas Express, planning to experience seven spectacular shows in the largest live entertainment capital in the world! The bus left Branson a day early due to a nasty weather forecast, so they missed the last day with three shows. It was raining when they left, and the area ended up with ice-covered hills under snow. Everyone was happy to leave ahead of the storm. The mystery stop at the George Washington Carver Park and Museum in Diamond, MO, was interesting. Carver taught farmers that something needed to be put back into the soil and that crops other than cotton needed to be grown. Kathy and Stan enjoyed Christmas with family and are looking forward to warmer weather as they cruise to the Far East in February.
After celebrating Christmas here in Williston, I flew to Minnesota to spend four days with my daughter and her family. One day we attended a basketball game in Little Falls where I had my first teaching job forty years ago. We shopped a little and had lunch with family in Shakopee before I flew back home. After eight months, I’m still waiting for the carpenter to start remodeling my basement but I am hopeful that he will be here soon.
Happy 2014 to all of our NDAB friends! We hope that you enjoyed the twelve days of Christmas and we wish you a “Blessed New Year!”
Donations and Memorials to NDAB
NDAB has been very blessed by many donations and memorials since our last issue of the Promoter.
Hess Corporation $ 500
Total Donations – $2,020
The following gave gifts in memory of Linda Oyloe:
Kathy & Stan Larson, Rom Thielman, Mavis Anderson, Loris Van Berkom, Janelle Olson, Missy Miller
Gifts in memory of Evelyn Schumacher from:
Mavis Anderson, Carol Schmitt
Gifts in memory of Jeanne Wengel from:
Mavis Anderson, Irene and Lyle Nelson
Irene and Lyle Nelson also gave gifts in memory of Merle Willard, Regina Perry, Mike Hoeppner’s father
Gifts in memory of Garnet Preabt from:
Carol Schmitt, Sharon Apland, Kari Mahle
Gifts in memory of Connie Springsted from:
Evelyn Hildebrandt, Loris Van Berkom, Kathy and Stan Larson
Total Memorials – $214.00
Total Donations and Memorials: $2,234
NDAB appreciates your generous financial contributions.
Helen Baumgartner, Treasurer
The ACB Radio Management Team is delighted to announce that it is now possible to enjoy all 6 streams of ACB Radio by phone. No computer needed.
To listen to ACB Radio by phone, dial: 231-460-1047. You will then be presented with a menu of choices. You can jump from stream-to-stream if you decide while listening you want to hear another one of our channels. Pressing the pound key while listening will return you to the main menu from which you can select the stream you want to hear. Keep your ears on this new service; we plan to offer more!
On behalf of the entire ACB Radio team, thank you for your support and for continuing to listen to ACB Radio where your listening is our business.
I have some news regarding the adoption of Unified English Braille in the United States. As many of you probably are aware, the Braille Authority of North America has decided to adopt Unified English Braille (UEB), following the example of other English-speaking countries around the world. The intent of UEB is to make back-translation of braille documents (that is, translating from braille into print) more seamless for electronic devices such as the Braille Note and the Braille Plus 18. It will combine the Computer Braille Code and English Braille American Edition, or EBAE (the literary braille code) into one code. In order to do this, nine contractions will be eliminated. The contractions that will be foregone are the signs for -ation, -ally, -ble, to, into, by, dd, com, and o’clock. Many of the symbols such as the percent sign, the dollar sign, and others will be changed. Also, some of the rules will be changed. For instance, the rule which forbids the use of a single-cell contraction that bridges a root word and a prefix or suffix will be eliminated. This was done to help simplify the code. The changes are supposed to begin on January 4, 2016, which is the 207th birthday of Louis Braille.
This past December Deb Johnsen and I attended the Getting in Touch with Literacy conference in Providence, Rhode Island, during which many questions regarding the adoption of UEB were discussed. The transition to UEB has gone well in other countries such as Australia and New Zealand, where it has been adopted several years ago. Also, our old braille books will not need to be thrown out! They will still be totally readable by new braille readers who have never learned the EBAE. Just exactly how the transition will take place in the United States has not been announced yet, but I will try to keep you all informed of the progression from EBAE to UEB as I learn about it. Additional information can always be obtained by visiting the Braille Authority of North America web site: www.brailleauthority.org. Change is always a challenge, especially for us old braille teachers! But I feel that we have to move with the times and keep up with the requirements of living in a high-tech world. I’m gearing up to learn something new. How about you?
The Smart Contact Lens
From Yahoo News: It has been on the cards for nearly fifty years, but technical obstacles have meant that it remained firmly in the realms of science fiction.
Now, however, the ‘smart’ contact lens that can release medication directly into the eye could finally become a reality. Researchers at Harvard Medical School, Boston Children’s Hospital and MIT have developed a contact lens designed to treat glaucoma, the world’s number one cause of irreversible blindness.
The lens features a thin polymer film of latanoprost, the most common drug used to treat glaucoma. For the first time, scientists were able to ensure a consistent transfer of medicine to the aqueous humour of the eye – the fluid surrounding the eyeball.
The treatment promises to be significantly better than eyedrops, the current favoured method of administering latanoprost, according to Dr. Joseph Ciolino, Massachusetts Eye and Ear cornea specialist and lead author of the paper: “In general, eye drops are an inefficient method of drug delivery that has notoriously poor patient adherence.”
He also hinted that the technology could have wider-reaching applications. “This contact lens design can potentially be used as a treatment for glaucoma and as a platform for other ocular drug delivery applications.”
The idea hints at the use of contact lenses for other drugs – a concept seen extensively in sci-fi films, such as Looper, where characters take illegal drugs through their eyes.
“The lens we have developed is capable of delivering large amounts of drug at substantially constant rates over weeks to months,” said Professor Daniel Kohane, director of the Laboratory for Biomaterials and Drug Delivery at Boston Children’s Hospital.
The lenses are made from the same silicone hydrogel as standard ‘soft’ lenses, with the medicinal polymer layer added around the edges of the lens. The centre of the lens is clear as usual, ensuring that the treatment does not affect the wearer’s vision.
[Black holes locked in ‘Dance of Death’ could affect space and time]
The lenses can be made with no refractive power, for patients with no need to correct their vision, but it is also possible to embed the latanoprost layer on lenses for short- or far-sighted patients.
The potential of the treatment could be huge, benefiting glaucoma sufferers across the world. 480,000 people in the UK alone suffer from the condition.
“A non-invasive method of sustained ocular drug delivery could help patients adhere to the therapy necessary to maintain vision in diseases like glaucoma, saving millions from preventable blindness,” Dr. Ciolino said.
Glaucoma occurs when the eye’s drainage tubes become blocked, preventing fluid from draining properly. This causes pressure to build up, which can damage the optic nerve connecting the eye to the brain, as well as the nerve fibres from the retina. It typically affects both eyes, and must be treated early before damage is done to the eyes.
VisionAware Introduces Getting Started Kit
For Those Newly-Diagnosed with Vision Loss
New York (October 29, 2013)
Over 21.2 million Americans report trouble seeing, and that number is on the rise. For adults experiencing vision loss for the first time, the diagnosis can feel overwhelming and stressful. With this in mind, VisionAware created its new Getting Started kit.
VisionAware.org is a free online resource for the millions of people who have difficulty seeing, offering dynamic social networking and customized guidance with rich content and practical tips on living with vision loss. The Getting Started kit is intended to provide hope and help to handle the challenges of vision loss, and to connect users with the resources they need. Many people are unaware of specialized services and products available to them. Comprised of 10 “tip sheets,” each sheet addresses practical solutions to everyday tasks such as reading, cooking, using computers and other technology, helping friends and family understand what they can do, and more.
“These tip sheets represent just a small sample of the wealth of information visitors can find on VisionAware, including the latest news on vision loss and specific eye conditions, a community of peers and professionals, in-depth articles, and coping tips,” said Priscilla Rogers, VisionAware Program Manager. “We hope anyone experiencing vision loss, as well as their loved ones, will use the tip sheets and then explore VisionAware.org.”
The Getting Started kit’s tip sheets contain the following helpful information:
- Steps to Take to Get Help, including who to see about vision loss and your
roadmap to VisionAware
- Questions to Ask Your Doctor about your eye condition
- Bathroom Safety Tips
- Kitchen Safety Tips
- Tips for Making Print More Readable
- Your Home Office (how to manage correspondence, finances and other personal
- Technology Tips, including an overview of assistive technology that can be
helpful in everyday life
- Keeping Fit
- Having Fun, including options for continuing to enjoy leisure time activities or
starting new ones
- Do’s and Don’ts When Meeting a Person with Vision Loss (for friends and family
A diagnosis of vision loss can be frightening, but armed with the right information, individuals losing their sight can learn how to best cope with vision loss. Visit VisionAware.org.
Visually Impaired Make Visit to Outlook Nebraska Inspiring
by Jeff Beals
From the outside, it looks like a thousand other factories, but what happens inside this 1950s-era industrial building is far from ordinary. Once a bottling and canning plant, the 290,000-square-foot building is now home to Outlook Nebraska Inc., the largest employer of blind and visually impaired people in the Omaha metropolitan area.
ONI is a private, nonprofit organization operating under the Javits-Wagner-O’Day Act of 1971 and the AbilityOne Program, which mandates the federal government to provide preferred vendor status to agencies such as ONI that employ people who are blind or have other significant disabilities.
ONI is a tissue-converting business, which means they make toilet paper. Huge rolls of recycled paper fiber come into the plant and leave as packaged toilet paper and paper towels. The products are sold to the federal government and other customers. Much of the product is used in federal prisons.
I had been invited to visit ONI several times but kept putting it off. John Wick, director of fund development, kept sending me kindly worded invitations, so I eventually took him up on the offer of a tour.
Upon arriving, I found the main office and checked in. To my surprise, many of the front-office employees were visually impaired, including Mr. Wick, a former health care executive who lost his sight more than 20 years ago due to a rare eye disease. I also met an industrial manager who has substantial visual impairment.
Our first stop was the technology center. Both of ONI’s information technology professionals are blind. All of their computer work is done through sound and touch. In fact, the keyboard buttons at ONI have no letters, numbers or symbols printed on them at all.
I watched in awe as the blind IT guys maneuvered computer programs faster than most sighted individuals can. Special software reads aloud the text. You can speed up or slow down the pace of text reading to suit your personal preference. The two IT guys have been using audio text for so long, their ears are highly attuned — they can decipher words at an astounding speed.
While touring the factory, I saw blind and visually impaired employees running machinery, sorting items on an assembly line by touch and deftly packing finished product into boxes. The workers were so efficient I kept forgetting they couldn’t see. Though one of my tour guides was completely blind, he nevertheless knew where everything was located in the plant.
At the end of the tour, I sat down in the conference room with a couple of ONI employees. I was the only sighted person in the room, but it never felt that way. I was truly amazed at the adaptations these successful professionals have made.
I left feeling thankful, comforted and inspired. I was thankful for several reasons. I was thankful for my sight, which I typically take for granted. ONI employees were clearly thriving, but there’s no denying that visually impaired people have a tougher row to hoe than most of us. I was also thankful for the hospitality ONI extended to me and how ONI employees figuratively opened my eyes to a whole new world.
I was comforted knowing that such high-quality resources are available to the visually impaired. Nearly 3 million Americans are visually impaired and almost 1.3 million are legally blind. Unemployment among blind people is a staggering 70 percent. ONI and organizations like it are working hard to change that. Think how rewarding and empowering it must be for someone whose blindness had forced them into years and years of public assistance to finally find a job specially designed for them to succeed.
Most of all, I was inspired. Some of the people I met were born blind. Others became blind later in life. Whatever the reason, nobody at ONI used their disability as an excuse. Nobody complained. Nobody lamented. Nobody shied away from challenges. The organization has a palpable culture of positivity, optimism and can-do attitude.
On this Thanksgiving week, I’m thankful for many things. My visit to ONI is certainly among them.
Jeff Beals is an Omaha author and speaker who can be reached at www.JeffBeals.com
Appreciate every single thing you have, especially your friends! Life is too short and friends are too few.
Legislative Report Winter 2014
By Allan Peterson
“Yay Team” With all due apologies to those of you who don’t claim to be Bison sports fans and to those who don’t care, it seems, nevertheless, appropriate to make the shout out, “Way To Go NDSU Bison” for accomplishing the rare feat of winning a third consecutive football college championship. It’s also worth noting too that this feat wasn’t done on the cheap as the team had to win a series of 3 playoff games among top teams in their division before they actually played the championship game in Frisco, Texas, on January 4. This feat is worth acknowledging, not only for its display of rare skills and abilities, but also for its demonstration of teamwork that was so necessary for them to achieve this lofty goal! It’s, no doubt, anticlimactic to discuss our legislative issues in the same context as football championships but I would submit that, at least for some of us, our advocacy endeavors have their own excitement, joys and sorrows!
When this Report was in the process of being written for last fall’s issue of the Promoter, all “non-essential” parts of the federal government were not being funded until some sort of political agreement could be reached on the budget which, as you know, happened later in October when a budget compromise of sorts was reached – lest we say that this agreement may prove to be only a temporary fix! I would submit that the recent shutdown of the federal government is a cogent reminder to all of us that politics matter and that it is important that we be involved in the political process and that we, at least, strive hard to be informed voters.
Using the metaphor of sports teams, like the Bison, it takes teamwork to accomplish our advocacy goals. When we are advocating on a national level with our federal government and Congress, it is appropriate for us to look upon ourselves as being on the same team with other advocates from the American Council of the Blind. From my familiarity with ACB I can truthfully say that those who advocate under the ACB banner represent all parts of the country and all segments of the political spectrum, which, I believe, is a very good thing because it gives us greater creditability as an organization whose primary mission is to advocate for people with sight loss.
As a state affiliate of ACB, One of our most important advocacy functions is our participation in the Annual Legislative Seminar, which this year is scheduled to happen from Sunday, February 23 through Tuesday, February 25 in Washington DC. The format that’s followed for the Seminar is to focus on two or three priorities that are felt to be most worthy of warranting congressional attention. The first two or so days of the Seminar are spent being educated about the priorities that have been selected before we make those important visits on Capitol Hill. In our case, as a part of the Seminar, we will be sure to make those visits to the offices of our North Dakota congressional delegation – Senators Hoeven and Heitkamp and Congressman Kramer.
This year’s Legislative Seminar priorities haven’t yet been issued by our national office but, it’s a fair assumption that, because congressional action is still needed, ACB will include some of the same initiatives that were a part of our 2013 Seminar. As you may remember, one of last year’s priorities was to seek passage of legislation to lift the Low Vision Device Exclusion rule that was imposed by Medicare in 2008. The more legalistic terminology for this exclusion rule is that “all devices, “irrespective of their size, form, or technological features that use one or more lens to aid vision or provide magnification of images for impaired vision are to be excluded from Medicare coverage”. This action by Medicare administrators was justified by expanding their legal interpretation of the statutory eyeglass exclusion rule. The effect of this action has been that any and all magnification devices, such as CCTV’s, have been excluded from coverage by Medicare since they saw fit to expand the eyeglass exclusion rule in 2008.FYI: The term, “Eyeglass exclusion”, means that eyeglasses are not to be considered as a part of Medicare coverage.
In regard to this issue, ACB recently announced that Representatives Carolyn Maloney (Democrat-NY_) and Gus Bilirakis (Republican-FL) have agreed to champion H.R. 3749, the Medicare Demonstration of Coverage for Low Vision Devices Act of 2013 in the House of Representatives. This bill, when it’s enacted, would provide funding for a 5 year study to determine the feasibility of expanding Medicare coverage to include certain low vision devices for qualified beneficiaries. This action in Congress seems to be in anticipation of our pending visits to Capitol Hill since the provisions of the bill are almost identical to those in the suggested draft bill that we shared while making our visits with the congressional offices on Capitol Hill during last year’s 2013 ACB Seminar. The bill of, course, has many hurdles to overcome before it would become law but, the fact that it bears so much similarity to our draft bill proposal last year, does help demonstrate the influence of our advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill.
The second legislative priority that was addressed at last year’s 2013 Seminar was draft legislation referred to as The Anne Sullivan Macy Act. The intent of this proposed bill is to improve the delivery of specific and appropriate special education and related services to all students from kindergarten through high school that are blind or visually impaired. It is our hope that the language that is being suggested for the Anne Sullivan Macy Act would soon be introduced as a bill in Congress and, secondly, that if this bill isn’t introduced, that the provisions of the bill would be included in the Reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which is, itself, presently due for reauthorization by Congress.
NDAB Resolutions that supported the two 2013 ACB legislative priorities, described above, namely, the Anne Sullivan Macy Act and the Medicare Coverage for Low Vision Devices Act, were presented to our 2013 NDAB Convention, held in June at the Guest House Hotel in Grand Forks and our Convention adopted both resolutions by a unanimous voice vote. FYI: We will use these resolutions again as tools to support our advocacy for these issues, when we make visits with our North Dakota congressional delegation in February during the 2014 ACB Legislative Seminar.
There is, undoubtedly, a number of other topics that could and will be discussed as a part of this year’s 2014 ACB Legislative Seminar, these might include but aren’t necessarily limited to: reauthorization of the Rehabilitation Act, proposed regulations for quiet cars, regulations regarding accessibility standards for prescription drug labeling, progress on implementation of the Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA), efforts to pass the treaty for the visually impaired (also known as the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Treaty, and updates on ACB’s legal advocacy through pursuance of structured negotiations.
Just as fair warning, to the wise, 2014 is an election year, so get ready for this fall’s upcoming political campaigns, which you will likely soon become aware of when you are tuned to any of your media preferences. Also, there will be a primary election this June, which perhaps could be a topic that will be addressed in the next Legislative Report.
Finally, there are three phone numbers that may be of interest to some of you, they are
(1) To listen to internet ACB Radio using your telephone, call 1-231-460-1047. Please note: This isn’t a toll free number but if you have unlimited long distance service, you shouldn’t be charged for making this call. This is a way for people who don’t use the internet, to have the opportunity to listen to ACB Radio.
(2) If you have limited income and resources, and don’t qualify for health care coverage through Medicare, you may be eligible for health care coverage through Medicaid expansion which was passed by the recent 2013 session of the North Dakota Legislative Assembly. The number to call is 1-855-794-7308 – this is a toll free number. There are income and resource guidelines that are required to qualify for this program; the people that answer calls will ask if you want to fill out an application, which will help determine your eligibility for this program.
(3) If you have questions about health care coverage through Medicare and/or the supplements that are available for Medicare coverage, you can call 1-888-575-6611 and ask to speak with someone in the State Health Insurance Counseling (SHIC) Program. Also, you can find more information about the SHIC program by visiting www.nd.gov/ndins.
2013 ACB Convention Delegate Report
By Doug Stip
I begin this article by saying thanks. Thank you, first of all, to NDAB and those of you who supported me when you elected me as the alternate delegate at the 2012 Convention in Bismarck. Also, thank you, Helen Baumgartner, for informing me of your inability to attend the convention in plenty of time for us to make our arrangements.
Five of us from NDAB made the trip to Columbus: my wife Mary, Allan Peterson, Donna Hepper, and Zelda Gebhard and myself.
This was the first ACB Convention hosted by ACB of Ohio. Mary and I arrived early in the afternoon of July 5th. The Hyatt Regency had a shuttle service to and from the Columbus airport. We had considered using the paratransit service instead but the shuttle was very helpful. The last thing we wanted was a long wait to get from point A to point B! Since the roll-call of affiliates wasn’t until Saturday evening this gave us time to do some different things.
On Saturday morning the 6th, we took a bus tour of Columbus. Columbus, named after navigator and explorer Christopher Columbus, was founded in 1812 and is the largest city bearing that name in the U.S. (2010 population: 787,033) The surrounding metro population in 2010 was 2,308,509. (Columbus, North Dakota, by comparison had a 2010 population of 133.) The tour took us through the Brewery district, the German village, and past Schiller Park which if I remember correctly hosts a “Shakespeare in the Park” summer theatre series. The State House is located there, as well as Ohio State University. Columbus is home to the Blue Jackets franchise of the National Hockey League and Nationwide Mutual Insurance. (The Blue Jackets play in Nationwide Arena.) I would have liked to have taken some pictures during the tour but that is too hard to do from a moving bus!
That afternoon we spent a couple of hours at the exhibit hall, then the roll-call was Saturday evening because the first business meeting was right away Sunday morning. This was a little different from ACB conventions we’ve attended in past years.
There are differences of opinion regarding the annual roll call of states and special-interest affiliates. There seems to be some sentiment to discontinuing it. ACB has 51 state affiliates and 20 special-interest affiliates, not all of which were represented at the convention. The Wyoming Council of the Blind would not have been represented were it not for Allan Peterson, who is a member of that chapter in addition to ours. Others like the tradition, and feel it is helpful to hear the roll called.
Sunday morning’s business meeting included remarks from outgoing ACB president, Mitch Pomerantz. He was elected at the 2007 convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He said the greatest accomplishment of ACB during his presidency was an increase in advocacy. His biggest regret was there wasn’t as much financial support for ACB as he would have liked.
Another highlight of the morning was an audio recording from Enrique Perez, second vice president of the World Blind Union. He was supposed to attend the convention but couldn’t make it.
Special affiliate recognition awards went to ACB of Texas, who increased their membership number by 54, and the South Dakota Association of the Blind, who increased their membership percentage by 29.4 percent. Speaking of recognition, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention about our brochure. Our NDAB brochure underwent a facelift not too long ago and the ACB public-relations committee took notice. We were awarded first place for our brochure!
Also included on the morning agenda was a welcome from Luke Stedke, manager of communications and marketing for the Ohio State House, titled “All About Our Host City.”
Sunday evening the 7th, we took a walking tour for a couple of hours that left us pretty tired at the end. This tour took us several blocks west and south of our hotel and along the river. Several of the crosswalks are equipped with a signal enabling a sighted walker to see how many seconds are left to safely cross at an intersection. There is an audio signal to listen for also. Weather for the walk was quite nice but throughout the week it tended to be muggy and sometimes rainy, with a big cloudburst one afternoon!
After Monday morning’s general session, I spent part of that afternoon touring a replica of the Santa Maria, Christopher Columbus’ flagship. The original Santa Maria sank on Christmas Eve, 1492. The replica was built in upstate New York and presented as a gift to the city of Columbus in 1992 to commemorate 500 years since Columbus’s first voyage to the New World.
Tuesday morning’s session featured a presentation entitled “The Voice Behind 600 Talking Books” by Gregory Gorton of Potomac Talking Book Services in Bethesda, Maryland. It was at this presentation we heard him read the classic George Carlin monologue about baseball and football. Mary and I enjoyed his presentation enough so that we got to hear him again later at another reading.
I used to be in radio years ago and had always tried to do my best for anything recorded to tape, but learning that a talking book narrator has to be an actor was something I hadn’t considered much before. Some of you who get the Promoter on tape have perhaps heard my narration on some of the articles. Well, that narration is simply the outgrowth of what I’ve recently learned.
ACB business is more than listening to speakers. There’s lots of other business to conduct too, such as reading and passing resolutions, discussion of changes in ACB’s constitution and by-laws, recognizing corporate and other sponsors at many levels, and elections of officers.
Some of the issues discussed during the morning sessions included: the decline of Braille readership, a “book famine” in some parts of the world where accessible books are harder to find than in others, access to television, and access to talking prescription labels.
Discussion of resolutions sometimes got contentious. One resolution that got considerable debate had to do with sheltered work environments, such as the ones highlighted in a recent network television report documenting how thrift-store workers at Goodwill got pennies an while hour CEOs got six-figure salaries. I remember feeling a little cheesed off at the direction some of the discussion was going, and wanted to put in my two cents’ worth on the matter, but also didn’t want to put my foot in my mouth in the process!
The ACB Auction on Tuesday was a lot of fun with a lot of great items up for the bidding. Although we didn’t buy anything ourselves, I’m happy to report the North Dakota items shipped from our local Home Sweet Home got a $100.00 bid. The auction total announced Thursday was $20,465. Between the auction, roll call solicitations and a walkathon Saturday the 6th, more than $55,000 was raised for ACB.
Days were so full of activity I didn’t write as much in my personal journal as I wanted. We had to be up early to be ready for the business meetings which started around 8:30 in the morning, and some of our evening activities kept us up well past 10 p.m.
History was made on Thursday morning with the election of Kim Charlson as president. She is the first woman to be elected president of a major advocacy group such as ACB.
I thought the convention overall was well-conducted, but a few things could have been better regarding the “facilities.” We met in a huge ballroom that had enough space for us. The exhibit hall was spacious as well but bathrooms were at a premium resulting in big lines. One nice thing about the hotel location was a food court on site with a variety of vendors. Prices were quite reasonable for meals. There were also restaurants located nearby if you didn’t want to eat at the Food Court. In fact, all of us ventured over to an Irish pub nearby called “The Three-Legged Mare” which I thought was top-drawer.
The hotel staff was most courteous and professional. We had a fellow help us by getting us some ice when we didn’t know where the icemaker was.
The banquet Thursday evening finished the week and we headed home Friday the 12th, arriving back in Minot in time to fight the rush-hour traffic home.
The 2014 convention is set for July 11th-19th at the
Riviera Casino and Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. For more information about the American Council of the Blind, visit the website at acb.org.
If you have never attended an ACB convention, please consider putting one on your bucket list if you have such a thing. These things can get in your blood. This convention was my third and Mary’s fourth. There is much good that can be learned from a close-up look about how a consumer organization like ACB operates. NDAB elects a delegate and an alternate every year so please consider serving NDAB in that capacity. Paula Anundson is head of the nominating committee this year so please contact her with your information if you are interested.
NDAB BOARD MEETING
October 11, 2013
MEMBERS PRESENT: Paula Anundson, Donna Hepper, Allan Peterson, Zelda Gebhard, Mark Kueffler, Michelle Zentz, Helen Baumgartner, and Alexandra Engraf
President Mark called the meeting to order at 6:35 PM. Additions were made to the agenda to include the topics of the publicity chair’s report and post-convention board meeting. Michelle made a motion to approve the agenda as amended. The motion was seconded and carries.
- Welcome: All board members were welcomed to the meeting.
- Respect & Communication: Board members were reminded of respect and communication. Let’s keep this a safe environment where we can express ourselves.
- Roberts Rules Video: Discussion was held about thoughts about the video given to board members at the last meeting. All members expressed a positive reaction to this video, considering it to be a great educational tool. A suggestion was made to use this as an educational tool during convention. Members will be given a quiz about Robert’s Rules of Order at the next meeting.
- Secretary’s Report (Ali): correspondence was received from Michelle, Paula, and Janelle, which consisted of their signed Codes of Conduct. Michelle also sent a note to the NDAB, thanking them for the kind words expressed for her father during the convention. A sympathy card was sent to Mavis Anderson after the passing of her sister-in-law. Ardelle. A recommendation letter for William Hawkins was read. Please continue to let Ali know if anyone needs a sympathy card.
- Treasurer’s Report: (Helen): The treasurer’s report was given and is placed on file. A motion was made by Allan to sell the IBM stock, and invest it in the American Century Investments account. Discussion occurred. Motion was seconded and carries. There is a CD coming due that we need to make a decision upon. Paula made a motion to have Helen talk with Chris Goodman at American Century Investments, asking him to advise us on a fourth investment in which we could invest the CD that will come due in November. The motion was seconded and carries.
- Financial Chair Report: (Alan): There was a generous donation received from West Fargo. The Gateway Lions have also donated to our organization recently. Most of the letters to licensed gaming organizations were mailed out. Work is being done with the NDSU Lions club to have them more involved in the Fargo Walk-a-thon next spring. Boeing also has given us a donation. We might want to connect with the Impact Foundation to update our information.
- Committee Reports
- Family Adjustment Seminar: (Janelle): Janelle’s report was given by Mark. There was concern about the lack of commitment by perspective families for the Family Adjustment Seminar. There was a suggestion to have the Family Adjustment Seminar in the spring in the town where we have convention. A point was made that Janelle should not be the only person that has to convey the fact that there is a Family Adjustment Seminar to perspective families. Michelle made a motion that Janelle check into what she can find available for this April in Bismarck. The motion was seconded. Discussion occurred. A question was addressed about Janelle putting an ad in the paper about Family Adjustment Seminar. The motion carries.
- Legislative Report: (Alan): A report was written for the Promoter about our recent legislative efforts. A letter was written for the Workforce Investment Act. There was another letter sent to senators about proposed legislation involving the Anne Sullivan Macy Act. There was encouragement to voice our opposition for the Workforce Investment Act.
- Membership Report (Zelda): Since our last meeting, we have approved three new members. Mary Jo Hamilton was approved on July 22nd, and on August 27th, Lexee Steffan and Donna Lee Neal were approved. Also, Merle Willard has passed away. There is a membership committee, consisting of Mary Stip and Genie Lang. Please contact Zelda if you are interested in joining. Discussion occurred about new member orientation. We are open to suggestions as to how to effectively provide our new members with a new member orientation. Any input is welcome. This discussion was tabled.
- Publicity Report (Sherry): A proposal written by Sherry was read. Zelda made a motion to provide Sherry with business cards for her public awareness and promotion. The motion was seconded. Discussion occurred. Sherry would provide us with a template for these business cards that others could use. Questions arose about who would be primarily responsible for keeping the template. Allan and Zelda have business cards, which they have received from the National Braille Press. Discussion was held about the price of these cards. The Braille on these cards is a nice touch, especially for awareness purposes. There was a suggestion that the template could be kept by the secretary. A point was made that we could tailor the template to our desires to a certain degree. It was suggested that the publicity chair keep the template. The motion carries. Discussion occurred about the proposed memorandum of understanding for the White Cane Project. Concern was expressed with regards to just handing out a cane to any person. An O&M specialist would need to train these people. Clarification in regards to training for this plan is needed in order to vote on this aspect of Sherry’s proposal. This aspect of the proposal will be tabled until further clarification is noted.
- Nominating Committee Report (Paula): Paula is starting to seek nominations for the 2014-2015 officer elections. We are looking for a new secretary and board member. Contact Paula if you are interested.
- Participation Incentive Program (PIP): (Zelda): There is already involvement for the next PIP award. Discussion occurred about the new addition of the public awareness component of the PIP. Concern was expressed about the working of the PIP. It was noted that success was demonstrated with this program last year. People felt impressed for being recognized.
- Post-convention Meeting: This meeting is needed but we need to find a way to shorten it. Agreement was expressed for the need and importance of this meeting. We could accept stipends for national convention prior to this post-convention meeting. Zelda made a motion to add securing a photographer to the convention manual. A point was made that photographing is also a public relations activity. A suggestion was to have the publicity chair make sure someone will take photographs at the convention. We must remind people that these are their jobs to designate or take photos. Mark will contact the historian and scholarship chair to discuss the importance of photographs.
- Strategic Planning: Discussion occurred about today’s strategic planning meeting. Enjoyment was expressed about the meeting. Discussion was held about who will meet with them further meetings via telephone conference. Michelle, Allan, and Zelda volunteered to attend these further meetings. We also will have a younger member attend these meetings.
III. New Business
- 2015 Convention: Discussion was held about potential locations and volunteers for the 2015 Convention. The Williston group was contacted to assist, but the responsibility was directed back toward the board. The Bylaws state that we can direct this responsibility of the convention on a committee. The board should decide where it will be held. Zelda will contact Jamestown to see if there is potential for a location for the convention. Paula volunteered to work with Zelda if the convention were in Jamestown. A suggestion was given to seek out volunteers through the Promoter to help with the planning of the 2015 convention. Carrington and Valley City were suggested as other possible locations. Paula will check out Valley City. Allan will check Carrington. This information will be sent by next Friday the 18th. Zelda will compile the information to E-mail to everyone.
- Facebook: Discussion was held about the Facebook page Whitney developed. Paula made a motion to go ahead with the Facebook page. The motion was seconded and carries.
- The NDAB won first place for outstanding ACB Affiliate Marketing Brochure.
- Shereen wanted to send greetings. She is doing well and healing slowly.
Allan made a motion to move into executive session. The motion was seconded and carries.
Allan made a motion to end executive session. The motion was seconded and carries.
- Date and Time of Next Board Meeting
The next board meeting will be tentatively held via conference call on February 9, 2014 at 7 PM.
Meeting adjourned at 9:13 PM.
Approved November 6, 2013 via E-mail.
All Used Up
Reprinted with permission from — Steve Goodier
A well-known surgeon was attending a dinner party and watched the host adroitly carve and slice the large turkey for his guests.
When he finished slicing, the host asked, “How did I do, Doc? I think I’d make a pretty good surgeon, don’t you?”
“Perhaps,” said the physician. “But anyone can take them apart. Now let’s see you put it back together again.”
Like surgery, some tasks require special talent, skill or training. There are those who have what it takes to work in an operating room. Others have the kind of aptitude needed to teach a class or repair an automobile, and still others can cook a delicious meal, play a musical instrument well enough that folks want to listen or solve difficult mathematical problems. Some people have a natural ability to relate to others, some people are imaginative problem-solvers, some people can organize almost anything and others possess the gift of empathy. I have yet to meet anyone who does not exhibit a unique talent or ability.
But Spanish cellist Pablo Casals said it well: “Don’t be vain because you happen to have talent. You are not responsible for that; it was not of your doing. What you do with your talent is what matters.”
And what’s the best thing to do with talent and ability? Use it. Use it generously – even extravagantly. And use it for good.
Erma Bombeck was known for her humorous journalism. But she frequently seasoned her writing with pinches of wisdom. At the end of a newspaper column on March 10, 1987, Bombeck wrote these words:
“I always had a dream that when I am asked to give an accounting of my life to a higher court, it will go like this: ‘So, empty your pockets. What have you got left of your life? Any dreams that were unfulfilled? Any unused talent that we gave you when you were born that you still have left? Any unsaid compliments or bits of love that you haven’t spread around?
“And I will answer, ‘I’ve nothing to return. I spent everything you gave me. I’m as naked as the day I was born.’”
She would agree that what we do with what we’re given is what matters.
My question is this: what would you find if you emptied your pockets today? Any unused talent? Is there anything inside that should be spent, shared or given away? When it comes to your time and resources are you living a life of extravagant generosity?
I’m going to mentally empty my pockets tonight at bedtime and see if I’ve been holding back. I think that’s important. I want to make sure there is nothing left at the end of the day that could have been used. And then tomorrow I’ll see what I can use up.
I can hardly think of a more worthwhile and joyous way to live.
NDAB Leadership Roster
Mark Kueffler, 1406 14 ½ Ave E, West Fargo ND 58078-3428, #866-9908
Zelda Gebhard, 8169 66th St SE, Edgeley ND 58433 #493-2399
Alexandra Engraf, 1303 8th St NW, Hettinger ND 58639 #206-1028
Helen Baumgartner, 402 12th Ave NW, Mandan ND 58554 #663-8878
Michelle Zentz, 1025 7th Ave S #5, Fargo ND 58103 #298-9105
Board of Directors:
Donna Hepper, 1420 83rd St, Ft. Yates ND 58538 #854-7395
Paula Anundson, 151 S Central #206, Valley City ND 58072 #490-0888
Janelle Olson, 915 2nd Ave W, Williston ND 58801 #570-0801
Allan Peterson, 7009 Horseshoe Bend, Horace ND 58047 #282-4644
Legislative Liaison Chairpersons:
Allan Peterson, 7009 Horseshoe Bend, Horace ND 58047 #282-4644
Zelda Gebhard, 8169 66th St SE, Edgeley ND 58433 #493-2399
Loris Van Berkom, 604 8th Ave W, Williston ND 58801 #774-3399
Rick Feldman, 3301 Bohnet Blvd, Fargo ND 58102 #235-3293
Family Adjustment Seminar Chairperson:
Janelle Olson, 915 2nd Ave W, Williston ND 58801 #570-0801
Sports and Recreation Chairperson:
Dave Sundeen, 310 Dunsmoore Ave #1, Buxton ND 58218 #847-3139
Scholarship Committee Chairperson:
Tracy Wicken, 733 Dawn Circle, Grand Forks ND 58203 #772-7669
Denise Kirsch, 1934 N 16th St Unit 3, Bismarck ND 58501 #223-8774
Sherry DeFrancesco, 2307 10th St S, Fargo ND 58103 #540-6356
Local News Reporters:
Bismarck: Bob Vandal, 1311 N 3rd St, Bismarck ND 58501 #400-0109
Fargo: Shereen Faber, 3001 Madison Ave, Fargo ND 58102 #237-4589
Grand Forks: Olga Neal, 3538 10th Ave N, Grand Forks ND 58203 #775-5820
Minot: Doug and Mary Stip, 813 Park St, Minot ND 58701-4551 #839-4128
Williston: Loris Van Berkom, 604 8th Ave W, Williston ND 58801 #774-3399
Kathy Larson, 15225 59th St NW, Williston ND 58801-9560 #875-4291
All members are encouraged to submit items of interest to the editor by mail, phone or e-mail for publication. Deadline is the 10th of the month prior to quarterly publications of February, May, August and November.
NDAB is a nonprofit organization which promotes the interest of ND residents who are blind and visually impaired. As a nonprofit organization, we welcome donations to help in advancing the cause of persons who are blind and visually impaired.
To learn more about NDAB visit us online at www.ndab.org